Category Archives: Recipes

Too Hot To Cook: Polynesian Ribs Dinner Menu

Polynesian Ribs 3a

It’s been much too hot to cook over the last two weeks and with the fairly consistent afternoon showers, grilling is out. So I pulled out the slow-cooker and have been making some nice main courses. I had a craving for a roasted chicken (can you imagine?! It’s 101 degrees out and I want to roast something!), so I put thighs (bone-in, skin on) in the slow-cooker, on high, with some seasoning and in 4 hours had nicely ‘roasted’ chicken. Served with a fresh salad and tomato slices.

After that, I decided that a slow-cooker meal would be a nice idea for this week’s dinner menu. This one is full of exotic flavors and fresh vegetables. I put green beans on the menu, but whatever catches your eye in the garden or farm stand would do just as well.

And if you have peaches available, use them instead of tropical fruit cocktail.

On the board tonight:

  1. Island Ribs
  2.  Marinate overnight, Slow-Cooker
  3. Pineapple Pilaf
  4. Green Beans
  5. Tropical Fruit w/coconut and ginger ale 

Island Ribs

Slow-Cooker

  • 5-6 lbs pork ribs
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tbsp lemon or lime juice
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 to 3 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ to ½ tsp red pepper flakes (opt)

Slow-Cooker

Night before, rub salt and sugar on pork ribs and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning, put ½ cup water in slow-cooker along with ribs.  Mix together remaining ingredients and pour onto ribs.  Cook according to manufacturer’s directions (usually 8-10 hours on low) until meat is tender and pulls from the bone.

Note: Depending on your slow-cooker size, you may have to cut the ribs into sections that fit.

Pineapple Pilaf

  • 1 cup rice
  • drained pineapple juice and enough water to make 2 cups
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 8 oz pineapple chunks, drained

saucepan, skillet

Add rice and liquid to saucepan, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until all water is absorbed.

Heat butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, walnuts, raisins, salt & ginger; cook and stir 2 to 4 minutes or until onions are tender. Add rice and pineapple; stir and heat thoroughly. Fluff with a fork before serving.

Tropical Fruit w/coconut and ginger ale – drain fruit then toss with ginger ale and coconut.

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Copyright 2014 What’s 4 Dinner Solutions Cookbook: Spring Edition

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Moroccan Chicken with Olives and Preserved Lemons

There are quite a few recipes out there for this dish and I read through several of them to get a feel for the spices involved.  I ended up with a marinade of olive oil, garlic, ground ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, ground cloves, red pepper flakes, paprika, lemon juice, and preserved lemon rind.  Marinate chicken parts for at least an hour.  I used bone in thighs with the skins removed.  Heat a little olive oil in a large, deep, skillet and brown the chicken on both sides.  Remove the thighs to a bowl and add a couple of cups of chopped onion to the pan, scraping the bottom to loosen the tasty brown bits, add a splash of broth to help.  Thinly slice a couple of garlic cloves and add them to the onions.DSC_8755 (1600x1060)

Add back the chicken and the rest of the marinade and enough broth to come at least halfway up the chicken.  I thought one lemon wasn’t quite enough and sliced up another.  Just use the rind, the pulp strips away pretty easily.  Rinse the rinds in cold water to remove some of the salt.  Cover and simmer for an hour or so.  I remembered that I had saffron that we looked high and low for a while back – I added a healthy pinch of it to the pan after grinding it in a mortar and soaking the powder in hot broth. DSC_8756 (1600x1060)Take the cooked chicken out and add large green olives to the remaining sauce, raise the heat to medium and reduce the sauce.DSC_8757 (1600x1060)Plate the chicken with a side of choice.  Rice will work, I used couscous cooked with dried apricots and cranberries.DSC_8761 (1600x1060)Spoon the reduced sauce over everything and garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro.

Preserved Lemons

DSC_8753 (1600x1060)I’m always running across recipes that call for these but there aren’t any stores nearby that stock them.  I could order some online but they are too expensive for me.  Fortunately most of the recipes I see provide links to pages that give good explanations on how to do it yourself.  I went with Jaime Oliver’s recipe for these but there are plenty that are simpler, not that this recipe is in any way difficult.  I’ll be using this one for today’s dinner – stay tuned!

Tidbits

DSC_8743 (1600x1060)Cherry tomatoes!  More than we can eat so I’ve got most of these dehydrating.  Kept enough of them back for a nice pizza Margherita.DSC_8744 (1600x1060)This one is a thin-ish crust, painted with garlic infused olive oil and sauced with sauteed cherry tomatoes with more garlic and fresh herbs.  It gave us a chance to use some of the latest batch of homemade mozzarella.DSC_8750 (1600x1060)Fresh oregano and thyme in with the sauce and fresh basil added after it came out of the oven.  A pretty good pie!DSC_8733 (1600x1060)Yellow melon for dessert.  These are super sweet and I think they are the best melons ever.  I really should get back over there for another one.PICT4135 (1600x1060)Random wildlife!  This young whitetail still has prominent spots.  They slowly fade over the summer.  Momma isn’t far away.DSC_8739 (1600x1060)I’ll wrap with a couple of sammiches.  Here’s  pulled garlic pork on a bolillo roll with slaw and a drizzle of a locally bottled bbq sauce.  I grabbed a bottle last time through the store because I knew I was running low and it’s a lot like the stuff I make myself.DSC_8718 (1600x1060)Last is another classic Reuben with our own corned beef and sauerkraut.  This one has provolone and thousand island dressing.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Ice Cream and Gelato Treats

Key Lime Pie2

I’m swamped with work, trying to catch up after a week away, so tonight in true summer fashion, we’re going to have a repeat. But it’s a delicious repeat. Last year, friends lent me their Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker to test drive, so I spent a week making various frozen treats, testing them on all the neighbors (I was very popular that week) and posted the results. This summer I bought my own Cuisinart, so I thought it was time to pull out the recipes and make some ice cream and gelato. After all, it’s just been too hot to cook. Perfect time for frozen treats.

While Gelato is by far my favorite, I played no favorites and included ice cream and sorbet in the selection. These recipes all make between 1 and 1-1/2 quarts.  Here’s the lineup:

Vanilla and Strawberry Ice Cream (recipes here)

Blueberry Sorbet (recipe here)

Chocolate-Hazelnut Gelato (recipe here)

What’s your recipe for fun this weekend? What delicious things are you cooking up for this final weekend of July (oh, how can that be)?

Now for the recipe that started the whole thing, the reason I borrowed my friends’ ice cream maker. A while back I was searching for gelato recipes and came across one for Key Lime Pie. It sounded awesome. I tucked it away, planning to try it someday. Someday finally came and I put my own twist on it:

Key Lime Pie Gelato

  • Gelato Plain Base (recipe below)
  • 1 graham cracker crust, broken into pieces and frozen (recipe below)
  • 3 tbsps fresh lime juice, preferably Key lime*
  • 2 tsp grated lime zest

Make the Gelato Plain Base and chill as directed. Make the graham cracker crust as directed and freeze.

To make Key Lime Gelato: Gently whisk the limejuice and zest into the base. Pour the mixture into the container of an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Just after churning quickly stir in the graham cracker crust pieces, reserving some for garnish. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for at least 2 hours before serving.

*after you mix in the lime and zest, give it a taste and add more limejuice as desired. If you’re prefer it a bit more tangy, you can add up to 2 more tbsp without worrying about consistency.

Graham Cracker Crust

Note: You can substitute graham cracker pieces if you don’t want to make an actual crust. I just like the buttery flavor and texture of the actual crust in the gelato.

For the graham cracker crust: Mix 1/2 cup melted butter, 2 tbsp sugar and 2 cups graham cracker crumbs together. Press firmly onto the bottom of a well buttered 8×8 glass baking dish and bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes. Cool and remove from the baking dish, break into bite-size pieces and freeze in a covered container.

This recipe is the base for most gelatos, it’s also good frozen by itself:

Gelato di Crema (Gelato Plain Base)

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 large egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup sugar

In a heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the milk and cream. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally so a skin doesn’t form, until tiny bubbles start to form around the edges and the mixture reaches a temperature of 170°F.

Meanwhile, in a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Gradually whisk in the sugar until it is well incorporated and the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Temper* the egg yolks by very slowly pouring in the hot milk mixture while whisking continuously. Return the custard to the saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and it reaches a temperature of 185°F. Do not bring to a boil.

*The best way to temper is to add a tablespoon at a time until you’ve added about 1/4 cup. Then you can add a full ladle at a time, slowly.

One final note. If you’re wondering what the difference is between Gelato, Sorbet and Ice Cream, click here for a pretty good explanation.

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Frozen Treats: Chocolate-Hazelnut Gelato

Hazelnut Gelato1

This first appeared May 2013. At the time I had borrowed my friend’s ice cream freezer to test drive it. I bought my own this past week or so and decided it was a good time to start making some sweet frozen treats again. And as luck would have it, LFern is back from Japan and coming over tomorrow to share stories of her adventure. I also need to ask her a big favor, so I thought a fresh batch of her favorite frozen treat couldn’t hurt my case.

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My friend LFern and I are not able to get together frequently. Family, work and other daily obligations, plus the fact we now live about 25 minutes apart, make it difficult to plan a lunch or coffee time. But this week I sent her an email that said this:

If you decide to come visit me this week I’ll make chocolate-hazelnut gelato (ok, I’m making it anyway, but why miss out?)

T.

That seemed to be incentive enough. Remember she’s my coffee and chocolate friend. I sweetened the deal with the promise of Lavazza coffee, too. When she arrived the ice cream maker was busy humming away. Fifteen minutes later, we had coffee and Gelato ready for a well-deserved girls’ afternoon.

I served up bowls and then proceeded to put the rest in the freezer. LFern mentioned I really didn’t need to do that, she’d be happy to finish it for me. I reminded her I still needed to take photos. She suggested this would be the only photo I would need:

empty bowl1

Needless to say, the recipe was a success. I had to agree with her, it was difficult to put enough away to photograph later. But luckily, once the photos were done, someone had to eat the bowl of goodness. Since I was the only one around at the time, I didn’t have to share.

So here is the next recipe in the Frozen Treats series. (A reminder, the first recipe is here and the second one is here. )

Hazelnut-Chocolate Gelato

  • Gelato plain base (recipe below)
  • 1 tbsp dark cocoa
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 13 oz chunky chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella style spread)
  • 3/4 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped

bowl with cover, ice cream freezer

ETA: Two things I forgot to mention. I reduced the sugar in the plain base because the hazelnut spread has lots of sugar in it and I was afraid it would be overly sweet. When I tasted the mixture after the spread was added, it was still a little too sweet, so I decided to add the tablespoon of dark cocoa powder. That did it and gave the finished product a nice rich chocolate flavor.

Make gelato plain base. Remove mixture from the heat and sift dark cocoa into the mixture and then add vanilla and hazelnut spread, stirring until the spread has dissolved completely. Remove to bowl, cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Before covering with lid, I also cover with plastic wrap, pressed down onto the mixture to keep it from forming a ‘skin’. Next add to the ice cream freezer and freeze according to the machine’s directions.  It will be a soft serve consistency when done, freeze for at least an hour before serving. (Okay, we didn’t wait that long and it was yummy anyway). You can stir the chopped hazelnuts in before freezing or you can use as a garnish for each bowl.

This recipe is the base for most gelatos, it’s also good frozen by itself:

Gelato di Crema (Gelato Plain Base)

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 large egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup sugar (for the Hazelnut Gelato, reduce to 1/2 cup)

In a heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the milk and cream. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally so a skin doesn’t form, until tiny bubbles start to form around the edges and the mixture reaches a temperature of 170°F.

Meanwhile, in a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Gradually whisk in the sugar until it is well incorporated and the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Temper* the egg yolks by very slowly pouring in the hot milk mixture while whisking continuously. Return the custard to the saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and it reaches a temperature of 185°F. Do not bring to a boil.

*The best way to temper is to add a tablespoon at a time until you’ve added about 1/4 cup. Then you can add a full ladle at a time, slowly.

Recipe makes 1 to 1-1/2 quarts.

Side note: While I was typing this entry, late (last) night, I kept hearing this repetitive sound. It took a moment for it to register. It was our neighborhood Great Horned Owl, making quite the ruckus, hoot-hooting away in the rain. That was a pretty perfect moment.

I’ll conclude this series with the Friday Recipe Exchange, featuring the recipe idea that started the whole thing off. Until then…

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Frozen Treats: Vanilla and Strawberry Ice Creams

strawberry-ice-cream1 After friends  let me test drive their Cuisinart Ice Cream maker, I bought my own, so I thought it would be a good time to revisit a whole week of frozen treats, which will conclude with the Friday Recipe Exchange. I thought it would be good to start with the basics. The first recipe is for a cream only ice cream and I’ll link to a JeffreyW post that has an egg custard ice cream. Then I’ll add strawberries to it.  These recipes all make 1 to 1-1/2 quarts.

Vanilla Ice Cream

  • 2 cups half-and-halfP12738915
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 3 tsp high quality vanilla extract)

Combine all ingredients (including the bean and its pulp – if you’re using extract, DO NOT add yet) in a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to barely simmering, about 170 degrees F. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly – remove the hull of the vanilla bean or add extract at this point, stirring in completely. Pour mixture into lidded container and refrigerate mixture overnight to mellow flavors and texture. Freeze mixture in ice cream freezer according to unit’s instructions. The mixture will not freeze hard in the machine. It will reach a soft serve consistency. Then spoon the mixture back into a lidded container and harden in the freezer at least 1 hour before serving.

Strawberry Ice Cream (or really Any Berry Ice Cream)

  • Make the vanilla base (above), cooled overnight
  • 2 cups of chopped frozen strawberries (or any quality frozen berry of your choice)
  • 1 tbsp vodka

ice cream maker Toss strawberries with vodka, stir into the cold vanilla cream mixture. Add to your ice cream maker and freeze according to unit’s instructions. Again it will be a soft serve consistency when done, remove to an airtight container and freeze for 1 hour before serving.

As promised: For an egg custard ice cream, go to JeffreyW’s post here.

JeffreyW makes strawberry ice cream, too

JeffreyW makes strawberry ice cream, too

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Originally posted May 2013

Tacos, Stuffed Peppers, and Corn Salsa

DSC_8736 (1600x1060)This came together at the last minute.  I wanted to stuff more of my Anaheim peppers because there are quite a few of them and the last time I used them the result was good.  I had a pork roast that was pulled from the oven late yesterday so I pulled some of that apart and cooked it in bacon fat left over from the lunch BLTs, adding garlic and various chili powders and beef stock left from another project.  I cut the kernels off a couple of cobs of sweet corn off thinking it a nice  colorful filler for the peppers.  It did go in there eventually but as a part of a black bean salsa.  While the pork cooked down I drained the beans and chopped some green onions and red and green jalapenos.  That was all tossed with chopped tomatoes in rice vinegar with cumin, salt, and pepper.

So…  I could have gone with the pork and cheeses as a filler for the peppers and have the salsa as a side, or used the pork and cheeses with the salsa as filler in the peppers, but that wouldn’t have looked like much alone on a plate.  I knew I had corn tortillas so I opted for the menu as you see it.  The filling is the salsa with cream and cotija cheeses, with Monterey jack on top.  The tacos have the pork, cotija, lettuce, onions, chopped peppers, and tomatoes with a drizzle of taco sauce from a jar.

I bet TaMara is pulling her hair out reading this “recipe”.  LOL!

Caprese Bruschetta

DSC_8715 (1600x1060)Thin sliced bread, brushed with olive oil and toasted, topped with my homemade mozzarella, a slice of my patio grown San Marzano tomato, and fresh basil.  That’s kosher salt on that basil leaf, not some kind of scaly bug!  LOL DSC_8713 (1600x1060)These are a few caprese bites I tried with balsamic glaze.  Pretty good stuff.

Steak Au Poivre

DSC_8711 (1600x1060)It’s been a while since I’ve had a peppercorn steak so this recipe looked pretty good.  We were watching Chuck’s Eat The Street while doing lunch today and saw an episode where a chef cooked the little potatoes in butter and heavy cream to go with his signature dish of elk tenderloin and I hoped the web site would have a recipe for them but no luck finding it.  The potato cookery went by in a flash and I couldn’t quite tell if the potatoes had been parboiled before going into the butter and cream for the finish.  I quartered some little golden potatoes and sauteed them for a while in butter and garlic and then added the heavy cream and let them simmer, covered, while I made the steak sauce – skipping the parboiling idea.  They worked out OK but I think boiling them for a few minutes is the way to go.DSC_8710 (1600x1060)I went ahead and mashed them lightly and stirred them about to get the creamy sauce coating everything before plating.  I used the golden potatoes just to finish out an open bag but little red skinned spuds will get the call next time.

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